"We are proud to share our financial resources to make sure that a UI student can become a physician."

Sally and Joe Harper, of Davenport, Iowa, have two lifelong passions: a desire to make the world a better place and a love for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Through their generous gifts supporting medicine and scholarship at the University of Iowa, they’ve brought the two together in ways that will have far-reaching impact.

University of Iowa athletics have brought enormous joy to the Harpers’ lives. Sally, who grew up with avid Hawkeye fans as parents, has missed only a handful of home Iowa football games in her life, and when she and Joe married in 1964, she quickly whipped Joe into shape as a Hawkeye fan.

But the Harpers’ love for the university extends far beyond athletics—the UI academic medical center has helped enrich and lengthen their time together. After having heart procedures at Genesis Health System in Davenport, Joe enrolled in several experimental medical programs at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and is enjoying a healthier life as a result.

Initially, the Harpers had concentrated their scholarship support in Hawkeye Athletics, but Joe’s heart problems—and the excellent medical care he received—made them turn their attention to supporting medicine at Iowa as well. The dedication and knowledge of the doctors, nurses, and rehabilitative staff during Joe’s hospital care have impressed upon the Harpers the importance of “paying it forward” by supporting UI Health Care.

The Harpers also took advantage of the charitable IRA rollover to make an outright gift to support the construction of the new University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. By utilizing the charitable IRA rollover, the Harpers were able to direct funds from an IRA directly to the UI Foundation in support of the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Because the Harpers utilized the charitable IRA rollover procedure, none of the charitable IRA distribution was considered income to the Harpers, and therefore, they avoided all tax on the distribution and avoided increasing their adjusted gross income (AGI).

“Though we never had children of our own, we share a passion for helping young people.” Sally said.

And of course, their recent gift is just one of the many ways they’re doing that. In appreciation for all that the UI has offered them during their lives, the Harpers have established bequests creating numerous medical and athletic scholarships in their estate plans, working closely with their attorney and University of Iowa Foundation staff members. They also created a scholarship fund in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine that is already helping current medical students.

“We are proud to share our financial resources to make sure that a UI medical student can achieve his or her goal to become a physician, and we take comfort in knowing the recipient will go on to improve and save countless lives.”

Through more than four decades together, the Harpers have worked hard. Joe retired from Caterpillar Tractor after 25 years and then signed on at Group O Companies in Milan, Illinois, where he is senior vice president. Sally retired from Deere & Company after 24 years, and among other activities the couple enjoys raising funds for Care for Kids in the Quad Cities, an event that supports UI Children’s Hospital.

Thanks to UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa Hawkeyes, they’re still having fun and enjoying life. Throughout their years together, they have strived to always leave things better than they found them. And through their generous support, they’re ensuring that the fruits of their hard work will continue to benefit University of Iowa students, patients, and fans for generations to come.